LOS ANGELES, June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Coalition of African-American Owned Media (NCAAOM) further denounced Comcast for its non-existent carriage of 100% African-American owned channels on its nationwide platforms (approximately 24 million homes) and underscored its opposition to the Comcast-NBCU merger unless specific ownership conditions are enforced by the FCC and DOJ.
In a recent LA Times article dated April 27, 2010, Stanley E. Washington, NCAAOM President & CEO stated,
"For decades Comcast has shut the door to widely distributed wholly-owned African-American channels; and pension funds by virtue of their investment in Comcast are supporting apartheid right here in America." Comcast brings in approximately $3 billion per month, $36 billion per year, from nearly 24 million cable subscribers. Based on the large African-American populated cities in which Comcast serves, we estimate there are millions of African-American subscribers that contribute approximately 40% or $15 billion of Comcast's annual revenue. Because of the enormous support that the African-American community has shown Comcast over four decades, we find it unacceptable that none of the 250 plus channels that are offered on the Comcast platform are 100% African-American owned and widely distributed on their nationwide platform.
Further, in many of the U.S. cities where Comcast has a dominant share of the cable market, African-Americans comprise a majority or near majority of the population. For example, in Philadelphia --- the city in which Comcast is headquartered --- African-Americans make up more than 43 percent of the city's population.
A little more than half of all residents of Washington, D.C. are African-American. In Detroit, 8 out of 10 residents are African-American. Other Comcast markets with high concentrations of African-American subscribers include: Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Chicago, Jackson, MS, Memphis, New Orleans, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and many more. Nevertheless, the availability of African-American wholly-owned media does not reflect these statistics. Indeed, not one of the networks on Comcast's cable television platform is 100% African-American owned and widely distributed. Even channels that carry African-American targeted content are not 100% owned by African-American companies. Viacom owns BET and Comcast owns 33% of TV One. The proposed merger will perpetuate or even worsen the lack of 100% African-American owned cable networks. The deal will reduce competition by permitting Comcast/NBCU to play favoritism to their massive portfolio of 44 owned cable networks, and more to be launched in the future, in lieu of 100% African-American owned channels which will never get widely distributed on the Comcast platform. So we have no opportunity to survive and thrive. And to support these facts, please refer to the FCC Carriage Complaint filed January 5, 2010, by the Tennis Channel against Comcast for this very reason. Additionally, Comcast was caught blocking and slowing down competing video content on their broadband platform which recently resulted in a class action lawsuit against Comcast in which they settled in the amount of $16 million for their deplorable behavior. These are just two examples of their anti-competitive conduct.
Dr. Maya Angelou said it best, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."
The 2009 compensation packages of Brian Roberts, Chairman and Steve Burke, Chief Operating Officer of Comcast, were in excess of $35 million each. These two men, Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, paid themselves significantly more than what Comcast paid to wholly-owned African-American media collectively.
Comcast spends approximately $7 billion per year on content from cable networks and less than $2 million per year is allocated to wholly-owned African-American networks. Matt Bond, Comcast Executive Vice President, Programming Content Acquisitions, should be subpoenaed to testify under oath as to how many African-American owned media companies have been allowed to pitch him (or not pitch him) for Carriage Distribution Agreements. How many African-American owned media companies have been consistently denied such opportunities? Clearly the answer is disturbing, given the lack of 100% African-American owned cable networks widely distributed on the Comcast platform. And it's not for the lack of trying. Businessman Alvin James, along with Marlon Jackson of the Jackson Five, Attorney Willie E. Gary, Heavyweight Champion, Evander Holyfield and Baseball Icon Cecil Fielder, raised in excess of 60 million dollars to fund a 100% African-American owned network called The Black Family Channel. Instead of Comcast ensuring that The Black Family Channel succeeded, they exploited these African-American entrepreneurs by charging them millions of dollars in unnecessary launch fees. If Comcast did not support a network called The Black Family Channel, why should Black families support Comcast?
I had a letter sent to Brian Roberts, dated April 9, 2010, stating our position and requesting a meeting to resolve this urgent issue. On May 12, 2010, I introduced myself to Brian Roberts at the NCTA Cable Show in Los Angeles and requested a meeting with Mr. Roberts about these issues. Unfortunately the meeting request was denied. If this is their conduct while they are trying to secure approval of the largest media acquisition in history, how do you think they are going to act if they get approved? The time has come for Comcast to understand that African-Americans are no longer interested in living on the Comcast plantation. Until Comcast does business with African-American owned media in a significant way, we're going to boycott and campaign to have African-American families and our supporters disconnect Comcast services immediately.
The National Coalition of African American Owned Media (NCAAOM) is working to ensure that African-American Owned media companies are given the same opportunities as their non-African American counterparts to own, produce compelling content, access distribution, and flourish in today's integrated media landscape. The organization is focused on creating sustained equality through ownership as a means of rectifying the continued racial imbalance within the competitive media industry.
For further information and to book interviews with Stanley E. Washington, NCAAOM President & CEO, please contact: Alescia Buford, email@example.com , 818.995.6545
SOURCE National Coalition of African American Owned Media